A number of factors come in to play when deciding on an Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard but the most important consideration is what do you want to do on the water.
The Paddleboarding industry tends to group boards in four main categories: Surf, Allround, Touring and Race. However, there are also variations within these categories. The following simplistic guide should provide a little more clarification on selecting your ideal board.
I’m only interested in surfing and I’m looking to ride medium to large waves.
We are not big fans of Surf iSUPs which is why they no longer feature in our reviews. At present, iSUPs cannot reproduce the performance of hardboards (primarily due to rail shape and thickness) and if surfing is what you are in to you should only be considering a hard SUP board. This said, Red Paddle and Starboard have had a pretty good stab at producing a surf iSUP so if you are keen, you should consider the Red Paddle Whip or the Starboard Hyper Nut. These are likely to be the closest to getting any sort of performance on a wave but you’ll need to be a half decent SUP surfer to get the most out of them.
I am looking for a stable board which I can confidently take on coastal exploration, lakes and inland waterways. It should be easy to turn, sporty and fun on the water. I’m not in to surfing in a big way but would like to have the option of some fun in the waves.
We are now moving on to the Allround Inflatable Paddleboard Category which accounts for approximately 85% of the European market. However, Allround iSUPs are not all the same. There is now a bit of a split with some boards offering more speed and better tacking while some brands have stuck with the more traditional rounded shapes which lean more towards surf.
The sleeker shaped Allround iSUPs have more parallel rails which improves paddle stroke efficiency with improved tracking and better speed through the water. Great manoeuvrability is mainitained, making them ideal for longer paddles whilst still exploring caves, gullies and narrower waterways. Some surf capability is sacrificed, however, they still have the ability to catch a wave and offer a longboard surf experience. Of the boards we review, Quroc, JP, Red Paddle Sport 11 and Naish Nalu fall into this subcategory with the Quroc and JP the more manoeuvrable and Red Paddle and Naish the slightly quicker through the water.
Quroc Qi Crossover 10 4
JP AllroundAir 10 6 SE
Red Paddle Sport 11
The more traditional shaped Allround iSUPs are designed to provide a nice stable and manoeuvrable paddling platform. Ideal for covering shorter distances, they have a good balance of stability and glide. They take a little more effort in paddling as the rounded shape moves off the line a little more but they perform slightly better in the surf.
Fanatic FlyAir Premium 10 4
Asenne Floater 10 6
BIC Performer 10 6
Jobe Yara 10 6
Siren Mahi 10 6
Red Paddle Ride 10 6
I am an experienced paddleboarder looking to take on longer trips. Speed is important but so is stability and the room to take extra equipment on my adventures.
The Touring iSUPs are designed with longer trips in mind. They are typically faster through the water as they are longer and sleeker in design. Normally 12’6” in length (or longer), they have improved tracking and paddling efficiency as they cut cleanly through the water. Manoeuvrability does suffer so they are less well equipped for exploring tighter waterways, caves and gullies. Whilst still able to catch small waves, they are also less effective in the surf.
As with the Allround Category, Touring iSUPs can be split in to two camps.
Firstly, the more sporty tourers. These typically have less storage capability. They are also slightly narrower which improves speed at the expense of some stability. We prefer the flexibility of these boards which offer a little bit more in terms of performance. This is why we reviewed the Red Paddle Sport 12’ 6” rather than the Red Paddle 12 6 Explorer. The following boards fall in to this subcategory.
Asenne Voyager 12 6
BIC Wing Air 12 6
Red Paddle Sport 12 6
Siren Ray PFT 12 6
The more traditional Touring Inflatable Paddleboards will appeal to those looking for more adventure over performance. They are an extremely stable platform and a relatively easy paddle, allowing you to eat up the miles at a steady pace. There is also plenty of room for extra equipment.
I want to get in to racing but I don’t want to cart round a 14ft hard board.
We haven’t included Race iSUPs in our review as it is such a small segment in the market. However, Naish One 12’6” which we have included in the Tourer Section does have its own Brand run race series so it is an easy route in to Stand Up Paddleboard racing. Red Paddle have also added the Race Series to their range. These have some great innovation and will get you very close to hard board performance.
Fanatic Ray Premium 12 6
JP CruiseAir SE 12 6
Starboard Deluxe 12 6
Naish One 12 6
Mistral Trekker 12 6
Jobe Neva 12 6